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Ideal systematic training in polyglottery

 Language Learning Forum : Lessons in Polyglottery Post Reply
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jmlgws
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 Message 25 of 43
10 February 2008 at 11:33am | IP Logged 
Professor Arguelles,

I am reading with much interest your thoughts on a polyglot academy. I think your aims of preserving dying languages is quite noble, and I (selfishly) am interested in some of the concepts that you have presented here (e.g. the Great Books education).

I have a few "practical" questions to your proposal.

1) Where would you find faculty for your institute? It seems to me that this is not a difficulty after the academy is in being for a generation, since PhD graduates of this program would be good choices as faculty. However today are there that many polyglots who have extensive knowledge of great literature? Perhaps the answer is "yes", it was my impression though that this is not the focus of current linguistics departments. Also, is it important to have native speakers in the main languages? This might be relatively easy for French, German, Spanish (assuming that this institute would be Western), but might be tougher for Arabic, Chinese, Hindi etc. Finally, do you have any thoughts on what proportion of time the faculty might spend on teaching/facilitating, and what proportion of time the faculty might spend on documenting dying languages or other research?

2) Do you see your institute as being an independant body, or as being part of a larger university? In the latter case, do you have thoughts on how you would accomodate students who, for example, might want to just take a "Great Books" course, or do a minor in Polyglottery? This is not an issue if the polyglot institute is independant, but then the question would be whether you could get a sufficient volume of students who are willing to focus on this program alone.

3) This program appears focused on people to continue in academia. My question would be, how much thought have you given to those who do not? Almost certainly the great majority will, for one reason or another, not complete their PhD. I think I would agree with you that, in principle, this rigorous education should prepare a student as well as any other education in the humanities, but I think that it would be worthwhile for someone in this institute to know for sure. If I were a bright, prospective student who nonetheless wasn't sure I wanted to devote my life to polyglottery, I would ask these questions, i.e. after a BA at this institute, what careers would this prepare me for, would a prospective employer look favourably at my education etc. Naively this academy may not be the best preparation for "obvious" language-related jobs, e.g. an interpreter or translator, because these depend on a high attainment of practical ability in a given language, which you have stated is not the focus.

I realize these questions are very "practical", I hope they lie within the scope of this thread. I look forward to your next draft.

Lleweilun Smith
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ProfArguelles
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 Message 26 of 43
10 February 2008 at 6:05pm | IP Logged 
Mr. Smith,

Thank you very much for your input. My time is up for today, as I spent it writing for other threads. I had hoped to update this one every week, but it appears as if I will have to alternate weeks revising it and answering other posts. So, I should hopefully be able to begin addressing some of your "practical" points--which resemble some of those raised by Ms. Volte long ago. For now, let me just correct one misconception that I appear to have given you: the attainment of high practical abilities may not be the deliberate focus of the kind of education I am proposing, but this does not mean that it will not be the result. The outcome of a thorough knowledge of what languages are and how they came to be what they are should be a much higher level of conversational ability, etc., than can be obtained by mere pursuit of such functional goals alone. When you know a language in depth, you can certainly speak it with polish, and I would not offer anything less.

In the meantime, I have created a new thread entitled "alternative polyglot academies" in which those who disagree with my pedagogical principles can constructively develop their own forms of polyglot education rather than simply criticizing what I am trying to develop. I look forward to reading their proposals there.
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Alkeides
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 Message 27 of 43
10 February 2008 at 10:14pm | IP Logged 
Professor, one thing that concerns me above all is the subject of the school fees. Seeing as the campus is going to fairly well equipped and supplied with many expensive books, I think the cost would be quite high. With the calibre of the students expected, I am sure they would be able to obtain scholarships, but I think the operating costs of the university would not be able to be offseted by the postulated low student intakes?
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Alkeides
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 Message 28 of 43
18 February 2008 at 2:19am | IP Logged 
I find it interesting to note that you were told that humanities majors were more sought after by corporate headhunters than business majors Professor. I will probably be enrolling in a university within 4 years and from what I've seen on business courses, they seem very superficial and boring. If anyone has any other details regarding humanities courses vs business courses, could you share them?

Also Professor, would it be possible to reconcile a love of the sciences with your postulated programme? Asia is quickly rising in the world of research; China is currently America's top research partner, having just overtaken Japan in the past year or so. I believe languages still play no small role in the scientific community, despite the rise of English post-World War 2, as such, a study of the most widely used languages in research would also greatly benefit any prospective researchers.
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ChristopherB
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 Message 29 of 43
25 February 2008 at 4:11am | IP Logged 
ProfArguelles wrote:
I believe the best way would be to cease to focus on the end result of what I would like a full fledged program to be and instead to start at the beginning with something that could grow into such a program. What could that be? What if I were to open a private “clinic” or better yet a “retreat center” for the intensive study of languages? People will not flock to my door if I insist upon a highly demanding multi-year commitment from the word go. However, what if instead I offer to provide my experience in the form of individual counseling and coaching to those who need to seriously engage in the intensive and successful study of a language? My advertising angle could be not to compete with any other program but rather to complement them because I would not teach the language itself but rather the skills and techniques needed to be a better language student. People could come for a week or a month of purely linguistic grounding. While I worked with them with this more limited focus, I could not do otherwise than to evince my own take on polyglottery, i.e., the inherent union of language learning for the reading of classic texts in the original language. As the majority of those who came would probably be students anyway, over time I might persuade some of them to share my broader vision of education, and when an adequate number began to evince a wish to stay for longer and longer periods of time, the program proper could begin.


I think a counselling center would be a brilliant way to guide students in the right direction, from day one. Such counsellors exist in the form of career guides, so why not for languages as well? Certainly by providing individual and personal feedback and help, it will in turn help students feel that the goal of learning many languages is in deed not only feasible with many years of hard work, but can also be immensely enjoyable if planned out well.

Edited by Fränzi on 25 February 2008 at 4:20am

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rob
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 Message 30 of 43
25 February 2008 at 5:16am | IP Logged 
Fränzi wrote:
I think a counselling center would be a brilliant way to guide students in the right direction, from day one. Such counsellors exist in the form of career guides, so why not for languages as well? Certainly by providing individual and personal feedback and help, it will in turn help students feel that the goal of learning many languages is in deed not only feasible with many years of hard work, but can also be immensely enjoyable if planned out well.


I also think that the idea of a "retreat" is an excellent one. I am aware that various self-employed psychological counsellors offer an opportunity for some of their patients to live in their house for a short while if they are particularly stressed or feel that they need intensive observation. In a similar vein, life-coach style counselling would probably be extremely easy to implement, whether run out of an office or a home-office. Certainly much easier than establishing an independent educational facility. Though, as you say, once you have clients and introduce them to the idea, a demand might form naturally.
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qklilx
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 Message 31 of 43
25 March 2008 at 6:03am | IP Logged 
Professor, there was a post early on in this thread which struck my interest, but it doesn't seem to have been answered, so I will pose it again.

In your proposal you state that studying Korean followed by Japanese is more efficient and strategic than the reverse. Is this based on your own research or other scholars' research? What particular aspects of Korean will put a learner at an advantage in learning Japanese in the future?

I myself am studying both languages, and am currently looking to develop my Korean to an advanced level before resuming active Japanese study. It would be interesting to know how this path will affect my future Japaense studies.
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Ruan
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 Message 32 of 43
26 March 2008 at 2:27pm | IP Logged 
What should your target student do while this academy does not arise?
My routine is very similar to what you wrote about your monastic existence at Korea; In fact, I wake up at 3 a.m and my studies are centered around English, French and German. I study every hour when I am outside school; so I study 9 hours every day, mainly about subjects belonging to the first year of your proposed academy.

Should I go to some Humanities academy or ignore them and study by myself? Polyglots are also human beings; more frugal than most, but still needing resources; so I wonder what exactly is a polyglot's job, i.e what, where and how they work.

Edited by Ruan on 26 March 2008 at 3:44pm



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